Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Graphic from first Friday Night Videos intro, used on July 29, 1983
Also known as ''Friday Night
Late Friday''

Frankie Crocker
Tom Kenny
Darryl M. Bell
Branford Marsalis
Henry Cho

Rita Sever
Narrated by Nick Michaels
Scott Muni
(announcers, 1983-1985)
Country of origin United States
Running time 90 mins. (1983-1987)
60 mins. (1987-2002)
Original network NBC
Original release July 29, 1983 (1983-07-29) – May 24, 2002 (2002-05-24)

Friday Night Videos (later becoming Friday Night and then Late Friday) is an American music video show that broadcast on NBC from July 29, 1983 to May 24, 2002. It was the network's attempt to capitalize on the emerging popularity of music videos as seen on MTV.[1] Belinda Carlisle was the guest host for the first episode.


Early years

Friday Night Videos was initially produced by Dick Ebersol. From 1974 until 1981, in his role as Director of Late Night Programming at NBC, he co-produced The Midnight Special with that series' creator Burt Sugarman. Ebersol departed from The Midnight Special in 1981 to take over as the executive producer at his co-creation with Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live. Ebersol replaced Jean Doumanian, who had been promoted from associate producer when Michaels left to take a job at Paramount Pictures and who had dealt with various problems during her tenure, including an instance where Charles Rocket said the expletive "fuck" on air during a live broadcast which resulted in his termination.

While at SNL, Ebersol decided that he would attempt another Friday night music-based program and his idea grew into what would become Friday Night Videos, which would replace SCTV on NBC's weekend late-night lineup in 1983.[2]

In its early years, MTV was still a phenomenon that only a minority of Americans actually could see in their homes, as there were many areas not yet serviced by cable television, and not all cable television providers offered MTV at first. Friday Night Videos took advantage of that fact and proved to be the next best thing for many viewers. While it primarily showcased music videos by popular top 40 acts of the day, unlike its cable rival, Friday Night Videos tended to offer more variety; featuring artists from the genres of pop, rock, R&B, and rap.

In the beginning, like its predecessor The Midnight Special, the show ran 90 minutes long, and consisted of music videos introduced by an off-camera announcer. In addition to this, classic artists of the 1960s and 1970s occasionally appeared in "Hall of Fame Videos", major stars were profiled in "Private Reels", and new clips made their network debuts as "World Premiere Videos".

The most popular feature was "Video Vote". Two videos were played back-to-back, and viewers across the country, with the exception of the West Coast, could call in and vote for one of them, using nationwide 900 numbers for a small per-call fee. The winning video faced a new challenger the following week. When a video won four consecutive video votes, it was deemed a "retired champion" and two new videos were introduced the week after to start over. To increase the number of voters, they started to offer free T-shirts every fifteen seconds during the time of the voting when they called to register their votes.

Nick Michaels and Scott Muni were the off-camera announcers.

For the show's first few years on the air, the audio portion of the show was presented as a stereo simulcast over FM radio. This arrangement continued until NBC officially switched over to the MTS standard for broadcast stereo audio. From that point on, the show was broadcast in stereo.

Celebrity hosts

In 1985, FNV began featuring celebrity guests as weekly hosts. As a result of the host banter, the show often would have to slightly shave off bits of the end of the videos to conserve time.

Notable hosts included:

Timeslot change, added sister show: Saturday Morning Videos

In 1987, the show was cut from 90 minutes to an hour, and its starting time was moved back from 12:30 a.m./ET to 1:30 a.m., as a result of Late Night with David Letterman, which had become a major ratings hit by that point, adding another Friday broadcast at 12:30.

In early 1990, NBC sporadically ran a Saturday morning edition of FNV for viewers who missed the show hours earlier because of its late night timeslot. (These episodes, however, were usually not repeats of the new episode that just aired earlier in the AM but instead tended to be a compilation of past guest hosts.) That fall, the network premiered a clone show on the Saturday morning line up named Saturday Morning Videos, which followed Saved by the Bell and was basically a campier version of FNV that targeted the lead-in teenage audience. It was cancelled in 1992.

In late 1990, much like what was occurring gradually on MTV, FNV began to move away from an all-video format. Regular bumper segments were added, featuring various comedians.

In 1991, live in-studio musical performances were added. Meanwhile, Tom Kenny, a then-unknown comedian who would later gain fame as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, became the regular on-screen host, while Frankie Crocker hosted his own feature, "Frankie Crocker's Journal", which highlighted important dates in music history. Crocker later became the host along with Darryl M. Bell (who was later replaced by Tonight Show Bandleader Branford Marsalis in 1993).

Format change

Friday Night's logo

In January 1994, after years of falling ratings and seemingly becoming more and more insignificant in the wake of the cable television boom that allowed more households to have access to MTV, the show was retooled in an attempt to stay relevant. Moving to NBC Studios in Burbank from New York, the name was shortened to Friday Night, and became less of a music video show and more of a general entertainment and variety program, featuring celebrity interviews, stand-up comedy, movie reviews, live performances, viewer polls, and comedy sketches. Subsequently, the show now only made room to air approximately two music videos per episode. The new format also brought two new hosts: comedians Henry Cho and Rita Sever. Brian Copeland delivered humorous commentary on the news of the week in his segment, "The World According To Copeland". In 1996, Sever took over as sole host. The old Video Vote segment, meanwhile, was brought back and renamed "Friday Night Jukebox."

For the host segments after 1998, Sever would be seated or standing in front of the giant videoscreen on the right side of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno set, near the guest's entrance.

The twilight years

Late Friday

In 2000, despite having its highest ratings in years, the show was once again reformatted by NBC for budgetary reasons. Under that title, Friday Night's last telecast was December 29. On January 5, 2001, the show returned under the name Late Friday. Discontinuing the music and feature segments, the show now solely revolved around stand-up comedians doing their stage routines. Late Friday continued to air until Last Call with Carson Daly was expanded to five nights a week in May 2002. The cancellation marked the end of 29 years of NBC programming a weekly Friday late-night music or comedy/variety show.

See also


  1. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007-10-17). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 505. ISBN 0-345-49773-2.
  2. Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television (2 ed.). CRC Press. p. 784. ISBN 1-57958-411-X.

External links

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